Divine omniscience

The eyes of the LORD (II Chronicles 16:9)

Asa was one of Judah’s better kings. In the early part of his reign, he trusted in God and successfully defended his country against invasion (II Chronicles 14). But as time went on, he seems to have lost some of his earlier confidence. When threatened by the kingdom of Israel (II Chronicles 16:1), he did not turn to God but used some of the Temple treasures to bribe the powerful king of Aram to attack Israel from the north. In military terms, his strategy was completely successful (Israel was unable to sustain a war on two fronts); but it was an insult to his God.

The prophet Hanani reminded Asa of his previous triumphs of faith. Why then had he not continued to rely upon God? “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (II Chronicles 16:9) This sounds a bit like a ‘spy in the sky’ – but it is a colourful way of saying that God is watching over His people. Whether you find this reassuring or threatening depends on the state of your conscience… (Proverbs 15:3)

No hiding place (Jeremiah 7:1-15)

It was a widespread belief in ancient times that gods were geographically limited – to a country, a town, or even just a tree or rock. It can also be a very modern belief: how many people are under the impression that they have to go to a church building in order to communicate with God?

Jeremiah had to contend with this attitude. He had to minister to a people who seemed to think that as long as they said and did the right things in the Temple precincts, it didn’t matter what went on in their ‘normal’ lives (verses 9-11).  Away from the Temple, they felt free to do as they liked, as if God would be unaware of what they were up to. “But I have been watching! declares the LORD.” (verse 11) The One who is everywhere, and who knows absolutely everything about us, cannot be fooled (Jeremiah 16:17). He will not be taken in by a show of religiosity on Sunday if our behaviour the rest of the week gives a lie to our Christian profession.

No secrets (Psalm 139:1-6)

There are, in fact, no limits to God’s knowledge of me. He knows me better than I know myself: my actions, my thoughts, my intentions, my motives and my words – before they have even passed through my mind. I can hide these things from other people, but not from God; I can have no secrets from Him. Indeed, there are no secrets in the entire universe – not even in the grave (Proverbs 15:11).

The completeness of God’s knowledge is overwhelming – not only in its scope but also in its detail. And since I know that there are many things within me that are far from wholesome (Matthew 15:19), it can also be terrifying. I cannot evade His scrutiny; so the only solution is to ask for His mercy and for the cleansing power of His Spirit.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer!” (Psalm 19:14)

The basis of judgement (I Samuel 2:1-10)

Hannah sang this song of praise because God had at last granted her desire for a child. For years she had been ignored and despised; when in her desperation she went to the Tabernacle to pray, she was accused of drunkenness. But God had seen her suffering; He knew the true state of affairs and what was in her heart. And in the end, she had been vindicated.

God is the Judge. He does not need to call witnesses, and He cannot be swayed by an eloquent barrister. He knows all the facts, and He is aware of every mitigating circumstance. And so His decisions are absolutely fair and just.

Discernment (John 2:23-25)

One of the marks of Jesus’ deity was His knowledge of what was going on in people’s hearts and minds (e.g. Luke 5:22). He was never taken in by flattering words (e.g. Matthew 22:18) or superficial protestations of loyalty (e.g. Luke 9:57,58). He knew in advance that Judas would betray Him (John 6:70,71).

But He also knows genuine love and faith (John 21:15-17). On the Day of Judgement there will be condemnation for the hypocrites, but praise and reward for those who have been faithful in their loyalty and in their service (I Corinthians 4:5). Sometimes we can be overly self-critical, “but God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” (I John 3:20)

 “I know your deeds…” (Revelation 2:18-25)

The church at Thyatira was outwardly active and successful, but inwardly corrupted by false teaching. Onlookers – and even the church members – might be deceived; but Christ cannot be. He sees into the heart of every individual and every organisation. He sees what is good as well as what is bad. He will give credit where it is due; but He will not ignore or overlook evil in any shape or form. He will recognise and punish every sin (Jeremiah 17:10). But judgement is inflicted only on those who are unwilling to repent (Revelation 2:21).

Into the depths of the soul (Hebrews 4:12,13)

The penetrating nature of God’s scrutiny is apparent whenever we read the Bible (assuming that we are reading it properly). As we do so, we come face to face with God Himself – awesome and holy, yet also loving and merciful. Through His word, He reaches deep down into our minds and souls (Psalm 7:9), pricking our consciences, convicting us of our faults, and offering us forgiveness (Psalm 19:11).

This knowledge should encourage us to be honest with God. Whatever it is in us that we would prefer to ignore or hide, He already knows anyway. We can confess our sins to Him now – and have them forgiven – or we can leave it until Judgement Day, and be condemned.

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